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New Zealand’s Drone-based Fog-busting Technology

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Fogs are causing delays in New Zealand’s airports. Recently, flights at the Wellington airport had to be cancelled due to them. The good news is a spot-on technology using drones could provide just the answer. 

The newly founded enterprise has the solution to Aotearoa’s fog problem and it’s getting the attention it needs. The start-up company offering a method to clear fog at airports has received government backing. The company was set up by aviators and has carried out more than 200 tests in New Zealand and Australia so far.

The Christchurch-based company has developed a spray that can absorb moisture from the air quickly, clearing fog. Specifically, it aims to ease flight disruptions such as the three-day backlog in flights at Wellington Airport recently, when the fog rolled in and disrupted more than 200 flights.

The team is being assisted by the Government’s Airspace Integration Trials Programme, which aims to support the adoption of new aviation technology safely into the existing transport system. Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods said the spray could help make fog delays a thing of the past.

Fog delays at airports cost exporters, airlines and airports significantly, and result in more carbon emissions because of extra fuel spent on diverted flights, as well as causing significant frustration and inconvenience to travellers.

The company is developing a solution that disperses a safe water-absorbing environmentally-friendly product via drone … so that pilots and air traffic controllers can operate safely. A critical area of the sky can be cleared in as little as 10 minutes. It’s a simple idea that could solve a multi-billion dollar problem.

– Megan Woods, Minister, Research, Science and Innovation

Fog accounts for nearly 30% of weather delays at airports. Worse, it is difficult to plan for, making a way to clear it invaluable. It’s a universal problem that affects countries all over the world. The results could be tragic for people who need medical attention but can’t fly as the flights are delayed. In the recent fog problem in Wellington, emotions were high as people missed their scheduled flights.

The company’s next steps include more testing at airports throughout New Zealand, with the hopes of later marketing the technology internationally. Woods said New Zealand’s emerging aerospace sector is “highly innovative and research and development intensive”.

Drones have become a household word in today’s world. At its core, however, they are Information Communication Technology (ICT) on the fly. Technically, drones are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). They are flown autonomously either by onboard computers or via remote control by a human pilot.

Digital technology is changing New Zealand for the better. Not only does it allow processes to be better, but also saves on costs. An example here is the recent project of the island nation to digitalise its forest management systems.

Another way digital adoption is creating a huge dent in the fight for a brighter future for New Zealand is via the Internet of Things (IoT). Wellington, the country’s capital has developed a Digital Twin that allows it to plan its city ahead in light of climate changes. With the technology, city planners can see possible results and check how a particular climate-related plan would turn out even before the plan is implemented.


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